By Derek Baldwin, Senior Reporter www.xpress4me.com
Don’t judge the Dubai Metro based upon the hectic first few days of operation, say transport officials with Roads and Transportation Authority.
In a Ramadan gathering hosted by Dubai Press Club on Tuesday evening, officials say they expect the masses of first-time joy riders to abate soon stemming any future debacles as well as making room for serious work commuters.
“I believe joyriding will be over within another three months,” said Abdul Majeed Al Khaja, CEO of Rail Agency, adding “we have had mostly joy riders…this cannot continue. We want people to use it to get to work. Please do not evaluate us on the first two or three days.”
Officials fully acknowledged there were operational delays due to joy riders and unexpected stops by trains due to people pushing emergency buttons.
“People have been using it inadvertently in a wrong way,” said Ramadan Abdulla Mohammad, Director of Operations, Rail Agency, RTA. “This has led to emergency stoppages.”
Mohammad told the gathering of RTA officials and journalist that he personally witnessed the human crush of passengers at the metro’s opening and the mayhem that ensued by riders unfamiliar with metro decorum.
He said in some instances, “I think people have been pushing the button in emergency cases for opening the doors,” he said.
Al Khaja, meanwhile, urged riders to place confidence in the system as the kinks and bugs are ironed out – some metro riders have complained in recent days that the metro delays have made the service unreliable and they have been late for work.
“We can assure you, delays will be drastically reduced,” he said, noting that if the RTA’s dream team built a metro in a very short four years, the team can certainly fix a few last-minute glitches.
He said the RTA overcame many obstacles to build the most advanced driverless automated metro service in the world.
“The challenges were huge,” he said. “We dug a tunnel underneath the D’nata building. Nobody felt it, not even a simple tremor. Thousands of sensorswere installed. We put to use the most advanced techniques in the world.”
To reign in unruly behaviour on the metro, the RTA has introduced a series of fines such as Dh100 for eating aboard the train, Dh200 for smoking and Dh2,000 for pushing the emergency stop button.
Al Khaja said that commuters are under constant surveillance by onboard cameras and those breaking the law will be caught.
Nothing will divert the RTA’s mission to break the multi-billion losses road congestion costs the Dubai economy, said officials at the majlis.
One-third of 20 million vehicle trips a year by 2020 could be diverted from the roads to the new Dubai Metro to save billions of dollars lost in congestion, officials said.